Sunday, November 29, 2009

Holder to allow ACORN funding, despite ban

Current law prohibits the community organization ACORN and its associated groups from receiving any federal funds from any federal law currently on the books, (P.L 111-68 Sec. 163). However, the Eric Holder Justice Department has interpreted the law's phraseology in such a way that permits federal agencies to pay ACORN for "binding contractual obligations" the government made before the current prohibition was enacted. This interpretation may go a long way toward effectively neutralizing ACORN's funding prohibition, and it is a questionable interpretation at best.

The actual ban reads as follows: "None of the funds made available from this joint resolution or any other prior Act may be provided to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations." (Emphasis added.)

The Justice Department has decided that the phrase "provided to" is unclear and "has no established meaning in appropriations law." They cite terms more frequently used, such as "obligate" and "expend," that have widely accepted meaning in spending legislation. They go on to arduously defend their point by exhaustively listing the many definitions of "provide" given in Websters, Oxford and American Heritage dictionaries and even Roget's Thesaurus. Like Bill Clinton, they probably could have found as many definitions for the word "is..."


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